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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, everyone!

This is my first year with bees and I started out with a TBH. I've made a lot of mistakes so far but nothing that I couldn't correct. My bees have been pretty tolerant of my ignorance. I've been studying and reading what I can to try and learn as much as possible, but sometimes it's overwhelming.

My current question is this: It's late July here in Michigan and my TBH is nearly full! Is this OK or normal? I checked today and they are drawing comb on the last bar (just a tiny comb right now). The second one in is about half built. The third one in is fully built and filling with honey. I didn't remove that one because it was so warm out already and the wax seemed pretty fragile; I didn't want to break it due to weight. But I know from last week's check that the next two in are also honey comb. That gives me at least five bars of honey, and from there farther in is kind of a mix of honey and brood.

I'm not sure what to do now. Do I clear off a bar or two for them? Do I leave them alone? I don't have another hive ready so I can't make a split quickly (that's one of those mistakes I mentioned earlier - not having a spare!) The weather this past year has been so strange and unpredictable that I am very afraid of not leaving enough food for winter, and everything I've read says don't harvest from a first year hive.

We built one of the smaller hives as well. I'm not sure it's a "golden mean", but it's only 36 inches. I'm definitely building two four-footers this winter and transferring the bees come spring!

Thank you for your insight!
 

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you can always build a 4 footer now and set it right next to your other one and transfer all the combs over and pull the old hive. That will give you the room you need now and will give you a spare for splits etc, as long as it's close and the only hive there, you shouldn't have much confusion once all of the combs are over.
 

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I have run a 3 foot TBH for years without problems. What I do is remove capped honey combs and extract them## (crush and strain ) and return the empty bars to the hive.. I've done this three times this year taking two in May, two in June and three in July.

## Or cut the honey comb off into plastic food buckets and leave until I can extract

I have also removed three combs of brood for nucs this year.

The hive is currently full apart form the two end honey combs. I expect to remove at least one before end July.

The queen is 2012 and I have had no swarms in three years with this method of operation.

Four foot hives require less intervention
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So, I take it that I do need to make more room for them still this summer? Should there always be a couple of empty bars for them to build honey on until autumn comes? Should I put the empty bars into the end of the brood/beginning of the honey area or into the very end? Sorry for the simple questions. I've been trying to figure this out but it seems that some questions the books don't spell out.
 

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My view is simple: If your hive is nearly full and they are still bringing in nectar and it is likely to continue for at least 2 weeks (all true here locally), extracting one or two frames and replacing them keeps the bees busy and will not affect their winter stores- and gives me honey..

Edit

Inspected this hive this morning. Of the three frames replaced with empty bars, two have been fully drawn with comb and one is half full of capped honey. The other is full of nectar. The third is one quarter drawn - and full of capped honey and nectar. And that's in under a week.. (We have a flow on)
 

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If it were me, I'd harvest 1 bar of honey now and return it to the same position. You may end up harvesting another bar in about 6 weeks if they draw out and fill the one you harvested in July (and I expect they would). The other thing that should happen this fall is that the queen will slow down in laying eggs, and hopefully the bees will backfill the mixed brood/honey comb with honey. I don't know how many bars of honey the bee will need in Michigan, but you may end up shifting the solid bars of honey to one section for your last inspection of the year.
 

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So you know for sure they're building from one end to the other or is this a middle entrance they could have built one direction from?
I'm assuming you know, but just didn't mention.

I don't have a good feel for how much honey is "enough" to get them through winter on, and I don't know how much I can expect them to put away between now and the end of October. Is there any way you can pull some bars that are fully capped and store them? And place in blanks in their place? Then if they fill it out with nectar you can always harvest later. Can't really put honey back into the comb, though. :)
 

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Build another hive 4-5 foot long and move them, and use the 3 footer as a big nuc. If you think you will get some more "flow" then take a couple bars, if not then leave it all(I would steal one just so you get something ;) . Our winters are probably fairly similar and w/ 3 foot of honey I only got 1 of 3 to make it last winter. Now, I don't have the dimensions of the golden mean comb so I am extrapolating. If you move them or not I would maybe make a bar of sugar for them for winter and put in the fall(that is my plan and recommendation but I haven't done it before, I poured in sugar last year and it worked but messy)
 

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make a bar of sugar for them for winter and put in the fall(that is my plan and recommendation but I haven't done it before, I poured in sugar last year and it worked but messy)
I took the bar of all drone comb last fall and poured in a slurry of wet sugar on both sides. Let it dry out and setup similar to what Lauri recommends for her candy boards. Put that at the very front of my hive last November. Very mild winter for us (up until the crazy weather in Feb) and the bees were constantly eating it. Left all the capped syrup for early spring (plus they foraged a lot, which won't happen up North).

I plan to do this again for this winter as it worked really well and flowable sugar isn't an option for my screened bottom.
 

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You certainly can take a harvest. And, if you want to, you probably also can consider doing a split ... which simply means lifting a few bars of brood and of honey and putting them into another hTBH. You should have plenty of good-season left to enable the gathering-and-storing to continue without causing the bees to feel that they're being crowded-out.

Like most hobbyist hTBH-beeks, I am quite conservative ... taking less than I know that I could, and deliciously enjoying what I do take. I will harvest to keep them from "actually running out of room" in the enclosure that I have provided, until the cool Fall begins to draw near, at which time I am perfectly content that they might have "a box full of honey" to tide them over 'til Spring.
 

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We're seeing something of the same here (albeit in early August). We have a 3 foot hive, about 24 bars. Right now, 18-19 are all brood. Brood, brood, brood! A couple combs are mostly empty with a smattering of brood. There's one comb not fully drawn with some honey stores. And 3 combs are empty, with some festooning but no comb. We're in a dearth and I don't believe this area has much by way of fall flow.

We see larvae in various stages of growth, lots of capped brood, lots of drone brood (lots of drones!), bees everywhere. Couldn't make out any eggs. Didn't spot any queens. Found a queen cup (one) in the making but nothing seemed to be in it. We did hear something that did sound a bit like piping, or at least the first part of it. We heard the "pulse" part of it, but not any toots.

We're thinking a couple of things:

1) Split the hive. If we can find eggs, we can let them raise a new queen OR see if we can buy a queen to speed up the whole "more bees" process.
2) Build a bigger hive and transfer everyone over, like others suggested to the OP earlier.

Any thoughts on which way to go? We sure don't want them to do a late-season swarm and lose some.

We do believe that split or no split, we need to feed them so they can get some stores going for winter. The queen is laying like there's no tomorrow, but the strip of honey at the top of each brood frame sure won't last them through winter!
 
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